This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.
montynewman’s review published on Letterboxd:
This review may contain spoilers.
Nomadland is a contradiction. The characters tell you exactly what you should be thinking, the music tells you what you should be feeling, and in the end, there is no room for your feelings. It's a movie where-in the main character (Fern) is shown to desire, no need, open spaces and freedom. We, the audience, are not given the same space. Instead, we are suffocated with directorial intent.
At one point, a friend of Fern says, and I'm paraphrasing, "That's why I like this life. There are no goodbye's, only 'See you down the road.'" Of course, we see those words appear at the end of the film. We didn't need the reminder. We didn't really need the dialogue for that matter. The film already showed us the reasons why a person would choose the nomad life. In the end, we are shown, told, and told again.
The score is pretty bland and it's overused. The film takes great care not to cast value judgements, one way or another, on Fern's life choices. I do appreciate that about the script. The score, however, takes the opposite approach. You WILL feel deep emotion as Francis M walks through barren landscapes. I honestly think the film would've been much better if there was no score, or at least, it was used very sparingly.
The camera is misplaced during scenes with dialogue. It's about a foot or two too close to the characters. It gives the scenes a claustrophobic feeling, in a film which is trying to be about the opposite. It's yet another contradiction.
There are good points. Francis M is always good, and I think she's the best thing about the film. I also appreciated the landscape shots. We are given the space to experience them. There is a love of nature on display in the film, and I appreciated it.
There are better films which have positioned nomadic personalities against barren landscapes. Paris, Texas for instance. It is better because it is more committed to staying out of the audience's way. In a film about nomads, this is everything.